Monday, July 12, 2021

Don't Ever Give Up


There is a lot to be said for not quitting.  Jim Valvano is famous for his 1993 speech at the ESPYs for exhorting people to, "Don’t give up . . . don’t ever give up."  Even if you are taking one baby step further towards the goal, that is progress.  It may not be all the way to perfection, but thankfully that isn’t what is being asked of us (at least not of our own merits).  Even the great Apostle Paul knew that he had not attained all there was to be had in the Christian life, but he pressed on.  So can I and so can you.


Philippians 3:12-14

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.


Things to think about:

·       Persistence

o   “but I press on…”

o   “I strain towards what is ahead”

o   2 Timothy 4:7 –  “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

o   Hebrews 12:3 – “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

o   Galatians 6:9 – “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

o   Why is persistence such an important trait?

o   Is there anyone you think of as being persistent?

·       What gets in the way of persistence in the faith?

o   Past mistakes – I’ve messed it up too badly

o   Past efforts – I’ve tried this before, I’ll just fail again

o   The lure of sin

o   Swimming upstream culturally

o   Something else?

·       This is a marathon, not a sprint

o   “Not that I have obtained all this or arrived at my goal…”         

o   1 John 3:2 – “dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”

o   We’re not perfect but we know One who is

o   Hebrews 12:2 - Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith

o   1 Peter 2:22 – “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin,
    and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

·       Everyday we have two choices we can make:

o   Our attitude – Paul says he forgets what lies behind.  This is an active choosing of the will.

o   Our actions – Paul says he strains towards the goal, pressing on toward the prize.

o   Hebrews 12:1 – “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us”

o   How do our attitudes and actions affect our ability to persevere in the faith?

·       “To take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold for me”

o   What do you think Paul is referring to? 

§  Redemption

§  Renewal

§  Reward

·       If we persist and do not quit, Paul says we will win the prize that God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus.

o   Let us stay focused on the prize

o   If you are getting tired or discouraged, you can:

§  Pray for renewed strength

§  Read stories of saints who didn’t quit

§  Call a friend to talk it out


Monday, July 5, 2021

Fragile - Handle with Care!


If you heard someone call out in a loud voice, “Be gentle, be gentle!”, what would you think they were talking about?  Maybe a baby, or a kitten, or a person with an injury?  Maybe an antique or something else of great value.  In our verse below, Paul is telling us to be gentle with everyone we come in contact with.


Philippians 4:5 – Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 


Things to think about:

·       Two thoughts come to mind when considering gentleness: things of great value and things easily damaged.  Both of these are true with all people.

o   Matthew 6:26 - Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

o   2 Corinthians 4:7 - But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.       

o   What are other ways we know that God values all people?

·       With respect to the fragility of man, there are so many examples:

o   Our physical health

o   Our egos that are so easily bruised

o   Our inclination to sin

o   The scars we bear from previous emotional hurts

·       Given this, it is imperative that we treat others gently.

o   In fact, it is a fruit of the Spirit - But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22-23)

·       Can you think of a time when someone showed you gentleness when you really needed it (and maybe didn’t deserve it)?

·       When are practical times for us to show gentleness?

o   Resisting the urge to be short-tempered, quick to criticize, rush to judgment

·       You will no doubt encounter a situation today when you can offer gentleness to someone God has put in your path.

o   Remember, God values them so much He sent His Son for them

o   It is the will of God than none perish but all come to repentance (i.e., no lost causes)

o   All of us are but dust and need to be handled with care.

o   The Lord is near.